Literally, The End Of An Era

Tuesday turned out to be a day of huge implication. Two announcements, very nearly twenty four hours apart, and of vastly different tone and reaction. And, eliciting two very different and unexpected reactions from me. To the extent that I felt like waiting until I got my thoughts straight with myself before I broadcast them to the assorted library hobos that make up my frustrated readership. And one that, at the end of the day, made me realize something about myself. But more on that on a later day. First, Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show.

Of course, my first, gut reaction was one of immediate sorrow. That was my reaction when I heard John Oliver was leaving the show, and when Colbert announced that he was leaving the Report, and when Craig Ferguson announced his departure from his late night show. These are all talented men, working at their peak and producing amazing results. The thought of not having them actively contributing to the social discussion and bettering the culture is a repugnant one. But as with each of them, I accepted the reality, both in order to move on, and as a product of realizing that it was appropriate. It will be a sadder and less fulfilling world without Stewart's nightly commentary, but maybe we've grown accustomed to it, and he's clearly grown a little tired.

All summer, as he was doing press for the Rosewater release, Jon was letting slip little comments, about feeling tired of having the same routine for 16 years, of falling into complacency, of not feeling challenged. That he was willing to give up the show for an extended period in order to pursue a passion project clearly illustrates that the show was no longer his passion. A running joke on the show the last few weeks has been his extended length of time behind the desk. And the man will have been doing it for 17 year when he leaves, expected anytime between the summer and next winter. That is a long ass time to be making not just with the funny, but dealing with the rage and anxiety and the more than occasional feeling that he's yelling into a bottomless pit. He deserves a break.

Jon has never been a king-maker, and he wouldn't claim that he is one. But he has been the loudest, most consistent and rational voice during what is undoubtedly one of the most derisive periods in American political history. And it must be disheartening at times to realize, for all the good he has done in pointing out hypocrisy and championing rational thought, while laughing at the obliviousness by which it is undertaken, that things have really only gotten worse. If I spent nearly two decades telling people to fill in a hole while they only dig it deeper, I might want to find a new line of work too. Alternatively, while I've been a fan of Jon's tenure since the beginning, I haven't been as excited about the Daily Show as I was last year, when Stewart stepped away and Oliver took the chair. It was the same, but different. It maintained Stewart's editorial ethos, which Oliver borrowed, mutated and transformed into his own unique structure on HBO, but it was fresh and reinvigorated. If the Daily Show is to continue in a similar fashion after Jon's departure, as both Jon and Comedy Central seem intent (it is their flagship programme), then it will be an exciting new Daily Show, to stand or stumble on the merit's of Jon's successor.

When he leaves, it'll be a hard pill, but one that I think will be better off for all involved, us included. Political commentary, especially comedic commentary, it a lot like a filibuster. And it's time the Honorable member from New Jersey took a seat, and let the chorus take up his charge. He gave use Colbert, he's given us Oliver, he'll give us whomever takes his place. He's done his good deed. It's time he had a rest.

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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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